Scrore:75.37 // Status: Satisfactory

36 – Spain

In Spain, the media market is characterized by a high concentration of media outlets.

Private audiovisual media groups Atresmedia and Mediaset, and the public service RTVE represent more than 75% of the market. At the regional level, the sector is marked by the strong presence of public bodies united in FORTA (Federation of Regional Radio and Television Organizations or Entities), which increases the risk of political interference. Diversity in the press sector is greater.

Political polarization is reflected in the media, which dangerously blur the boundaries between information and opinion, contributing to the climate of discredit in relation to journalism. Freedom of the Press is also threatened by the increase in gag lawsuits (SLAPP) against media outlets and journalists.

Just like Spanish society, part of the media is polarized and increasingly replaces information with opinion, a phenomenon that fuels citizens' general distrust of journalists. The government has been accused by several media outlets of refusing to answer questions at press conferences, while extremist parties launch verbal attacks against journalists that they consider inconvenient. The far-right group VOX continues to spread false information and deny journalists and media access to its press conferences and other events.

The government and its allies in Parliament tried to repeal the most controversial articles of the “Gag Law” throughout the legislature. Failure to reach an agreement on this issue before legislative elections scheduled for autumn 2023 would constitute a serious failure to fulfil one of the government's main promises. The police continue to use their authority to harass the press, and the courts tend to favour the police officers' version, to the detriment of the journalists' version of victims of police violence.

The strong concentration of private media is accompanied by a lack of transparency about the real influence that media owners have over politicians and government officials. This lack of transparency also affects advertising spending by both public administrations and large private sector companies. Since the economic crisis of 2008 and the resulting wave of agency closures and mass layoffs, journalism has become a profession characterized by chronic precariousness.

In Spanish society, which is tolerant and open to diversity, journalists are rarely pressured, except by the authorities. Parliament began a process of decriminalizing “offenses against the crown” and other attacks on “symbols of the nation”, which in the past were obstacles to freedom of expression.

The easing of the conflict surrounding Catalonia's independence, which had already triggered great violence against journalists by protesters and police, drastically reduced attacks and assaults on these professionals. On the other hand, an increasing number of journalists are victims of harassment on social media, especially by governments and “trolls” from the far right and far left.